(Originally published here: http://www.allthingsstrings.com/News/News/Titanic-Violin-to-Be-Displayed-at-Two-U.S.-Museums )
A violin that is reported to have belonged to Wallace Hartley, the bandmaster of the RMS Titanic, will go on display at two US museums in 2016.
The display will mark the first time the violin will be available for the public to view since it set a world record in 2013 after an anonymous buyer paid more than $1.6 million during a British auction held by Henry Aldridge & Son.
The violin, which Hartley was said to be playing while the “unsinkable” luxury liner sank as passengers boarded lifeboats—a now infamous scene in James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic—will head to the Titanic Museum Attractions in Branson, Missouri, from March 7 to May 29, 2016 and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, from June 5 to August 14, 2016.
Prior to the sale the violin, now deemed unplayable from damage at sea and “repairs” made to it since its discovery, it underwent a series of tests and CT scans for seven years, commissioned by auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son, to authenticate its origins.
“The Titanic violin may never be played again,” Mary Kellogg, co-owner of the Titanic Museum Attractions, said in a statement. “But one of the final songs [“Nearer, My God, To Thee”] Wallace Hartley was said to have been playing during the ship’s final moments can still be heard in our imaginations.”
The violin is said to be a gift from Hartley’s fiancée Maria Robinson—it bears the engraving: “For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement from Maria.” It is reported that the violin was recovered more than a week after the Titanic sank, strapped to Hartley’s body in a leather case that bore the musician’s initials “W.H.H.”, whose life was claimed along with the disaster’s other 1,517 victims.
After the violin’s recovery, it was reported that it was returned to Robinson. It’s believed that Robinson’s sister gifted the instrument to a Salvation Army after Maria’s death, and that the violin ended up in a violin teacher’s hands before it was acquired by Henry Aldridge & Son.